96. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

[Omitted here are items unrelated to Central Africa.]

3. Zaire: Several weeks ago I mentioned my concern growing out of Belgian Prime Minister Tindemans’ visit, at the perilous state of the Zairian economy.2 We now have the revised Belgian proposal for a new multilateral assistance effort, which Mobutu revealed late last month and christened as his own “Mobutu Plan.”3 We have considered [Page 277] Tindemans’ request for an indication of how we might participate in the effort and we plan to tell him we are prepared to process a $20 million loan and guarantee for Zaire’s copper economy, subject to Ex-Im’s evaluation and concurrence. We will hold in abeyance, pending further indications of Mobutu’s seriousness in implementing promised economic reforms,4 a decision on whether to provide a possible $8 million in additional PL–480 assistance on top of $18 million of food aid already programmed for Zaire. Meanwhile, we will reaffirm to Tindemans our commitment in principle to participate in the Mobutu Plan and tell him that we look forward to attending a coordinating meeting of potential donors in the new year.

We have also considered diplomatic steps which we might take to stabilize the Angola-Zaire border situation. Our concern is that military assistance from French, Belgian and Moroccan sources being funneled through Zaire to UNITA may prompt Neto to encourage a resumption of Katangan gendarme attacks aimed at Zaire. My conclusion is that we cannot dissuade the French and Belgians from their view that their long-term interests are served by an ultimate Savimbi victory.5 Accordingly, we will limit ourselves to again warning Mobutu against diversions of US-supplied equipment. We will also share with him our concerns that his continued interference in Angola, even as an intermediary for others, could jeopardize Congressional support for our present economic and military programs and provoke the Angolans and Katangans into stepping up their activities in Shaba.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 19, Evening Reports (State) 12/77. Secret. Carter wrote “Cy, J” in the upper right corner.
  2. See Document 94.
  3. In a November 25 speech, Mobutu announced the Mobutu Plan, which called for “improvements in a number of sectors, among them transportation, agriculture, mining and general management, especially of the financial institutions.” The Embassy reported the speech in telegram 11236 from Kinshasa, November 26. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770439–0277)
  4. Carter underlined “implementing promised economic reforms” and wrote “We should be strict on this” in the left margin.
  5. Carter underlined “long-term interests are served by an ultimate Savimbi victory” and wrote “ours also?” in the left margin.